Coal and China's New Energy Plan
Source: Reuters (8/18/10)
"Coal will remain China's dominant source of fuel."
China is the top producer and user of coal, which has fuelled its rapid economic growth over the past three decades and turned it into the world's biggest CO2 emitter.
Power from thermal-coal fired plants has left major industrial cities choking on sulphur dioxide and underground water tables depleted or contaminated.
Although Beijing is keen to develop alternative sources of energy, coal will remain the dominant source of fuel. The government is seeking to cap output at 3.6B–3.8B tons by 2015, a rise of more than a quarter compared to last year
Following are some of the options available to China:
China ordered all power plants to install desulphurizing "scrubbers" four years ago, which led to a significant decline in air pollution.
By pushing forward coal-to-liquids projects five years ago, Beijing hoped to make better use of its coal reserves and ease dependence on foreign oil; but efforts went cold in 2008. CTL has been further downgraded and won't likely play a big role in China's future plans.
Carbon Capture and Storage
Capture technology is ready to be deployed but costs remain high, and China is beginning with a series of demonstration projects.
Integrated Gas Combined Cycle
IGCC plants remove pollutants like sulphur dioxide are from gasified coal before it is burned as fuel; surplus heat from the combustion process is also recycled. China is leading the way on IGCC.
Harvesting the methane that builds up in China's notoriously gas-heavy coal mines is also a key industry strategy.
Underground Coal Gasification
Technologies that gasify coal before it's mined have been in development for 50 years; China has already launched 16 demonstration projects.